Chemistry’s multi-pronged approach to DEI efforts

The Department of Chemistry has created a multi-pronged approach to increase diversity, create a successful and supportive environment to recruit and retain students. Implementation of several department-level programs and support of student-led initiatives are key components to our approach.  Each of our current programs is summarized below, and links are provided for more detailed information.

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Chemistry Opportunities, CHOPs

Highly qualified underserved (historically underrepresented minority, low-income or first generation) junior and senior undergraduates are invited to UW-Madison for an all-expense paid weekend, where they are encouraged to consider graduate school for the next step in their career. Participants immerse themselves in the culture of a research environment by touring our departments, attending presentations by Chemistry faculty and participating in hands-on workshops utilizing state-of-the-art instrumentation. Students also build relationships with current graduate students and explore student orgs and support resources. Coordinators provide guidance and support throughout the graduate school application process.

CHOPs started in 2012. As of 10.3.2023, CHOPs has hosted 212 undergraduates, of which 147 have applied to the program. We have made over 83 offers to join our graduate program. Currently, the department has had 42 CHOPs recruits join UW-Madison Chemistry Department.

CHOPs is currently funded by Dow Chemical Company, P&G and the Department of Chemistry.



Catalyst: Peer-mentoring program

The Catalyst program aims to increase retention and reduce graduation times for populations that have historically been underrepresented in the chemical sciences. This program implements evidence-based peer-mentoring to support students in their first year of graduate school. Each Catalyst participant is paired with a current student before arriving on campus. Peer mentors complete a 4-hr workshop on effective mentoring the preceding summer and then contact the mentee with whom they are paired before the ‘official’ start of grad school. Mentors and mentees attend two monthly seminars together and have at least four off-campus meetings together. The monthly seminar series consists of skill development salient to the success of grad students and their future employers.  Topics have included establishing a productive work/life balance, cultivating a positive scientific mindset, fostering an inclusive environment, and successfully advocating for yourself. A community of leaders is created through this program by encouraging mentees to continue on in the program as mentors.

Launched in 2016, Catalyst was initially funded by the graduate school. Currently, catalyst if funded by P&G and PPG. Since its inception, catalyst has had 240 mentees over the years. In 2023, catalyst has grown to currently have 39 mentor/mentee pairs compared to only 13 pairs in 2016! Catalyst provides a small scholarship for all mentors so they can highlight their leadership on CVs. In addition, the program is lead by a leadership team of graduate students whom help design and implement the program.

Website: Catalyst Peer-Mentoring Program

Chemistry Bridge to the Doctorate

 Bridge to the doctorate began in Fall 2019. The department was selected as the first Chemistry Bridge site by ACS and received funding for the first 3 years. Our Bridge Program is designed as a 22 month Master’s program. Fellows come to campus a week before the other first years. This gives them time to acclimate to Madison, meet other fellows and have Bridge orientation. Following the first week, Fellows then attend orientation with all other first years. In the fall, they rotate and select a group (one which is willing to accept a Bridge Fellow). After the first year, the Bridge committee meets with the PI and the Fellow and discusses future plans. This is to help prepare the Fellow for either applying to other programs, or transitioning into our PhD program or graduating with a Master’s degree. As of 10.3.2023, we have had 17 Bridge to the Doctorate Fellows. 

The Bridge to the Doctorate Program was initially funded by a 3-year grant from American Chemical Society. Currently, Bridge is funded by the Department of Chemistry, L&S College, the graduate school, P&G and PPG.

Read more about our inclusive efforts here:

Website: Bridge to the Doctorate

Partners for Graduate Experience in Chemistry, PGSEC

In conjunction with the Chemistry Opportunities (CHOPs) program, PGSEC students are invited to spend 2-3 days at UW-Madison. Travel accommodations and food are provided for students who attend PGSEC. Students will learn about various professors’ cutting-edge research and see what types of research you might expect to conduct as a chemistry graduate student. In addition, UW-Madison faculty and staff are available throughout the program to meet individually with students. Students also tour state-of-the-art facilities such as an NMR facility, high-performance computing cluster, X-ray crystallography laboratory, mass spectrometery laboratory, glass-blowing facility, and catalysis center.

We encourage PGSEC students to get a first-hand view of graduate school life by interacting with current UW-Madison graduate students during the program. Upon arrival to UW-Madison, each PGSEC participant is greeted by their graduate student host, and throughout the program, the hosts attend all PGSEC events. Students from past PGSEC programs have expressed how much they enjoy having the opportunity to ask graduate student hosts questions about their personal experiences in graduate school.

Finally, students get an opportunity to discover Madison and experience the welcoming, unique, and diverse culture. Past PGSEC programs have included tours of the state capitol, a visit to the State Street pedestrian shopping and dining area, and experiencing the Dane County Farmers’ Market at the Capitol.

Current PGSEC partner school is Indiana State University with Dr. Ryan Van Hoveln, UW-Madison Chemistry Alumni. 

Student led Initatives

Representation at Diversity Conferences